Sunderland International Airshow 2008


Foggy Views
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The Sunderland International Airshow is the largest UK airshow in terms of crowd numbers. 2008 saw the show wiped out by a Sea Fret which engulfed the display area in near zero visibility for most of the two days. Paul Johnson/Flightline UK reports from somewhere on the seafront. All photography copyright of Author.

We has hoped to report from our first visit to Sunderland International Airshow and the RAF's first ever role demo over the water. Sadly, Sea Fret meant that all flying displays for the weekend were abandoned. It was a frustrating weekend for organisers, flying display acts and the crowds, which were estimated at up to 1,000,000 over the two days. On Sunday several acts did get into the air in anticipation of disiplay. The Belgian F-16 was heard flying in the area of the display site, but not seen. For a few minutes on Sunday it did look like a clearance in the sea fret was developing, but it was quickly filled by fog again giving no chance for any of the displays. For a brief second or two, the crowd also glimpsed the underside of the Battle of Britiain Memorial Flight's Hurricane IIc. Perhaps the most frustrating fact of all was that all of the near by operating bases for the display aircraft and everything 5 or so miles inland werer under beautiful blue skies!

The RAF Role Demonstration Team had hoped to present a revising version of "Operation Summer Lightning" that would have involved the Royal Navy for the first time. Not only was the beach cover in pyrotechnics, but so was the Pier and a couple of Royal Navy ships moored off the coast. Royal Navy Sea King HC4 aircraft would have support Royal Marines attacking the beach. In the end, the Tornado GR4 flew above the fog as the pyro team did their best to add some colour to the grey skies!

Pea Soup
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